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Omid’s Story:

In his mid fifties, Iranian-born Omid is seeking the right to a
medically assisted death. Multiple system atrophy is an incurable but non-terminal
disease of the nervous system, and its left him hardly able to move or speak, and
he’s in constant pain. But, whilst this means his quality of life is seriously
degraded, Omid may have some years left to live. Medically speaking, he is not ‘
terminally ill’. If successful, Omid’s legal challenge could help to make assisted
dying legal for anyone with an incurable disease, even if it is not terminal, so long
as they are of sound mind, although legal challenges like this in our society are
not easy, and there have been a number of high-profile cases recently that have
failed in the UK.

Colin’s Story:

With a rare form of multiple sclerosis, Colin had spent much of the
winter last year in hospital, but had been advised there was little treatment
available. In the spring, having had to move back to his first floor apartment,
Colin had decided to travel to Switzerland, anticipating another winter would be
intolerable. Having met with Dr Erika Preisig at the Lifecircle organisation in Basle,
he had been given a date for his assisted voluntary death, and he’d asked me to
accompany him, not only to film, but to be his official witness.

Alex’s Story:

Alex is experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s. However, like
Marie, Colin and Omid, Alex is not deemed terminally ill. A retired academic,
university lecturer and wholly non-accidental agitator, Alex campaigns for
autonomy, dignity and respect. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has replaced
heart disease as the leading cause of death in the UK, and for Alex, choosing
when to die is an incontrovertible human right. However, he is afraid he’ll lose his
mental competence, or mental capacity before being able to take advantage of
Assisted Voluntary Death at Lifecircle in Basle.

Marie’s Story:

At the age of 13 Marie was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a
crippling and incurable condition that attacks the digestive system. Now 54,
although not medically defined as terminally ill, she had endured 49 operations,
was in constant pain and had to visit the bathroom up to 30 times a day. She had
had enough. Although having being born in Spain and educated in Switzerland,
Marie had a successful career as a city analyst in London, and had lived in
Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire for over 15 years. However, in 2008 she had to give
up work, and although having paid over 40% in tax for many years, found herself
the victim of council spending cuts. Living with her brother in Lausanne in
Switzerland, She had told me she felt abandoned by the state, and has decided
she can endure no more. She blames UK Government cuts for her decision to
die at Lifecircle in Basel. She was angry. Ken Loach, the filmmaker campaigning
against benefit cuts, upon reading about Marie, has said she is a double victim –
of “a debilitating illness and a brutal ­bureaucracy”.